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December 2003

The best information security people of 2003

Best Unsung Hero: Ralph Merkle Distinguished Professor of Computing & Director of the Georgia Institute of Technology Information Security Center Interest in computer security is driven by events, and the number of events is increasing dramatically. Ralph Merkle Ralph Merkle knows his contributions to the development of public key cryptography could have received more attention. After all, two other researchers -- Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman -- received the prestigious Marconi Foundation award in 2000 for advancing PKI technology, which paved the way for virtually every secure online transaction. But Merkle accepts that notoriety is fickle and understands that his well-documented contributions are known to anyone truly interested in infosecurity. Most Stanford University patents for public keys credit his work, and Merkle's research, which he began in the early 1970s, is cited in dozens of cryptography books. "The awareness of people's specific contributions in highly technical areas is often highly variable," Merkle ...

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